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Flag maplewood February 19, 2009 5:01 PM EST
I'd like to chat about the 39 Articles of Religion (aka "The 39"). 

They have popped up from time to time on these forums, either appealed to as law carved in stone, or dismissed as quaint historical documents.  (I'm exaggerating, of course, but HEY!, this is a forum on the 'net!  Whaddaya expect, Bunky?)  :)

I went to Wiki, a decent source for an overview on many things but not a scholarly resource by any means, and it made some interesting comments that I thought puts the issues quite succintly.  To whit:

The Church of England was searching out its doctrinal position in relation to the Roman Catholic Church and the continental Protestants.

It appears to me that the Articles were more a search to articulate the Via Media, and less a statement of confession.

These articles went through several versions....

The Ten Article of 1536; the Bishop's Book of 1537; the Six Articles of 1539; the King's Book of 1543; the Fourty-two Articles of 1552; and then finally the 39 of 1563.  As we can read in the BCP, it has gone through changes since then, and we record them in our prayerbook. (See the 1801 version in BCP.)

The issue over the nature and authority of the 39 is succintly stated in the Wiki article, and I quote it here at length.  IMO, the passage is a savvy statement on the issues, as I understand them.  My compliments to the Wiki author.

What the Articles truly mean has been a matter of debate in the church since before they were issued. The evangelical wing of the Church has taken the Articles at face value. In 2003, evangelical Anglican clergyman Chris Pierce wrote:

“ The...XXXIX Articles define the biblically derived summations of precise Christian doctrine...The XXXIX Articles are more than minimally assented to, they are believed wholeheartedly. In earlier times English and Irish evangelicals would have read Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Ussher, and Ryle, and would unreservedly agree with Dean Litton's assessment that (quoted by Dean Paul Zahl, in his work ‘The Protestant Face of Anglicanism’), 'The Anglican Church, if she is to be judged by the statements of the Articles, must be ranked amongst the Protestant Churches of Europe.'[17] ”

This view has never been held by the whole church. In 1643, Archbishop of Armagh John Bramhall laid out the core argument against the Articles:

“ Some of them are the very same thing that are contained in the Creed; some others of them are practical truths, which come not within the proper list of points or articles to be believed; lastly, some of them are pious opinions or inferior truths, which are proposed by the Church of England to all her sons, as not to be opposed; not as essentials of Faith necessary to be believed by all Christians 'necessitate medii', under pain of damnation.[18] ”

This split of opinion was seen vividly during the Catholic Revival of the 19th century. The stipulations of Articles XXV and XXVIII were regularly invoked by evangelicals to oppose the reintroduction of certain beliefs, customs, and acts of piety with respect to the sacraments. In response, John Henry Newman's Tract 90 attempted to show that the Articles could be interpreted in a way less hostile to Roman Catholic doctrine.[19] Consensus on anything is rare in the Anglican Communion, and the Thirty-Nine Articles are no different.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Nine_Articles

What are your thoughts on the 39?

Are they carved in stone, so to speak, or can they be changed?

Should they be changed?  Why?  And how?

What is their role in the Anglican Commuion?  What should their role be?

Are they "open to interpretation"?  If so, how so?  If not, why not?

Yes, I know I'm really loading up the post, but I'd like to cast the broadest net possible for discussion, and I don't want to leave anyone out.

Thanks, and pax!
Flag Dutch777 February 19, 2009 7:14 PM EST
[/quote]
Anytime.  You're welcomed.:)
Flag RJMcElwain February 20, 2009 9:39 AM EST
Real short answer: The "39", like several other historical documents in the back of the BCP, should be read and understood, but not necessarily cast in stone as dogma.

I'll be back with more after the market closes. (an ugly day):(
Flag maplewood February 20, 2009 3:55 PM EST
dutch: thanks for the post.  I like the concept of seat/voice/vote but not veto.

bob: I look forward to reading your post.

I do have some serious interest in The 39, as I want to understand exactly what they are and what authority, if any, they have.  That they are a historical doc, cast as what we would call today a "position paper", makes much sense to me and makes things alot clearer.

Coming from an RCC background, I have this knee-jerk reaction that all official documents are doctrine, dogma, and in force.  Old habits die hard....  ;)
Flag RJMcElwain February 21, 2009 3:15 PM EST
As has already been said by all, the 39 Articles represent an historical document, as much political as religious, that we compiled and revised over several years. And then, further edited by the Episcopal Church to suit our parameters.

As such, they look very much like the Nicene Creed, which was also written and revised over several years and was also written as much as a refutation of opposing doctrine as a faith statement. I would say both documents represent Corporate religion rather than any-one's statement of personal religion and belief.

OTOH, rather than considering revising a historic document, I've always thought that composing such documents is a great exercise in learning, and I would suggest an entirely new statement be undertaken. Such a statement should be a part of each National Convention and should also be open to and subject to revision at all such conventions. After all, belief  and religion are a constantly evolving thing which can never become static. Never has. Never will.

Oops! There's the door bell.

Later.:)
Flag RJMcElwain February 28, 2009 8:31 AM EST

Looks like we've lost a few posts. And the navigation to get here may take a few tries.  I've been out of town the last couple of days, so it looks like I'll spend the weekend figuring this out. If you remember the posts that got deleted, let's put them up again and continue.

Flag RJMcElwain February 28, 2009 1:53 PM EST

"Bob Funk the trombone player? I'm on board with Spong's thesis, but Funk's I haven't heard....


Cheers,


Kelisha*  "


 


I found the above post that got deleted in the transition. I was referring to Bob Funk who founded the Jesus Seminar.

Flag Brobrooz1 March 24, 2009 8:05 PM EDT

What are your thoughts on the 39?


When first considering the Episcopal church, during inquierers/confirmation class we went thru them. My first reaction, 'Yeah, so? Hows this so different from other Christian churches?' When going for my Lay Preacher's license, the PCOM had me write a paper on them. In it I gave them more examination, the theme of the paper was on the commonality, and differences with other churches. Helped me to articulate my faith more.

Are they carved in stone, so to speak, or can they be changed?


No, not carved in stone-that is why they are in the back of the book. Can't be changed, they are a historical document.

Should they be changed?  Why?  And how?



No-See above.  imho- If it is felt there should be a rivision-then a new set of articles should be drafted and approved. Since they have been religated to the back of the book as 'historical documents'-it really doesn't matter...



What is their role in the Anglican Commuion?  What should their role be?


Not in stone, but a good guideline.

Are they "open to interpretation"?  If so, how so?  If not, why not?


Definately open to interpretation, as pointed in one of the previous posts, they were purposely written broadly (vis media, etc.)

Flag Roodog July 5, 2009 10:44 PM EDT

It's obviously not law.


Since 1801, TEC has gone more Catholic than the 39 allows.


I was not taught the 39, I came across it by accident.


Presently, it does not appear to be a guiding principle either.


Correct me if I'm wrong.

Flag RJMcElwain July 6, 2009 2:59 PM EDT

Jul 5, 2009 -- 10:44PM, Roodog wrote:


It's obviously not law.


Since 1801, TEC has gone more Catholic than the 39 allows.


I was not taught the 39, I came across it by accident.


Presently, it does not appear to be a guiding principle either.


Correct me if I'm wrong.




I think it would be a valuable exercise to write a new "39 Articles" Not to create new law or dogma or doctrine, but just for the value of the process of putting ideas on paper. A worthy project of the just starting Episcopal General Convention.

Flag Roodog July 6, 2009 7:54 PM EDT

Revise or replace the 39? Would it fly?


Our Methodist friends have the 25 Articles, their adaptation of the 39. The difference reflects the difference between Methodist and Anglican teaching at that time. The core doctrines are the same. The 25 is still orthodox.

Flag holst January 6, 2013 11:18 PM EST

Jul 6, 2009 -- 7:54PM, Roodog wrote:

Revise or replace the 39? Would it fly?


Our Methodist friends have the 25 Articles, their adaptation of the 39. The difference reflects the difference between Methodist and Anglican teaching at that time. The core doctrines are the same. The 25 is still orthodox.


they are at best a guide.  nothing outside of the bible can be seen as "law"

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